9to5mac reports Sony CEO Howard Stringer, in an interview with Walt Mossberg at Carnegie Hall in New York City, said shipments of camera sensors to Apple will be delayed due to Sony’s facility in Sendai that was affected by last month’s earthquake and tsunami. Stringer’s statements come as a surprise considering Sony has never been a supplier for Apple’s camera-enabled mobile devices (iPhone, iPad 2, iPod touch 4th gen) as the company chose to implement Omnivision’s image sensors in the past years. Omnivision’s lens modules are used in the iPhone 4 (5 megapixel sensor), iPod touch and iPad 2.
Stringer just said that their camera image sensor facility in Sendai was affected by the tsunami. Getting image sensors to Apple will be delayed.
MacRumors also points to a transcript of the interview by the Wall Street Journal itself, which seems to confirm Stringer’s hints at image sensors set to be shipped to Apple in the near future:
Early on, he raised the irony of Sony supplying camera components for Apple devices. It “always puzzles me,” he said. “Why would I make Apple the best camera?”
It is unclear what devices he was talking about as Sony isn’t known to supply key camera components, known as image sensors, to Apple; A Sony spokeswoman declined to comment and an Apple spokesperson couldn’t be reached for comment.
Following Stringer’s interview, speculation is running wild on the Internet about whether he was referring to a brand new Apple product still in early production stages, or a new version of the iPhone or iPad. A report from April of last year, however, provides more insight into Stringer’s mention of image sensor for Apple: analyst Ashok Kumar claimed that Apple had signed on with Sony for an 8-megapixel camera lens to be used in the “2011 iPhone” – which would be the iPhone 5 set to be announced sometime between summer and fall. The report from Kumar also correctly indicated that Omnivision would be the supplier of a 5-megapixel sensor for the iPhone that Jobs would announce at WWDC 2010 – indeed, the iPhone 4 with a 5 MP camera module from Omnivision. In the past months, several bloggers also speculated Apple could implement Omnivision’s new 16:9 CMOS image sensor in the iPhone 5, although the reports didn’t provide any additional details. The iPhone 5 is also rumored to feature a bigger screen, the same Apple A5 processor seen in the iPad 2, NFC capabilities and a new aluminum design with internal antenna.